AARP launches $40 million fund to develop technology for seniors

October 1, 2015, 9:39 PM UTC
Harriet Carter-Brown, 63, of Washington, DC, smiles as she looks at photos of lighthouses on her iPad during the twice weekly Connect to Community class in the basement of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, on July 9, 2013. The program is sponsored by the AARP Foundation.
Photograph by Maddie Meyer—The Washington Post/Getty Images

AARP, the nonprofit with 37 million members advocating for the needs of those above 50-years-old, and JP Morgan Chase have teamed up to launch the first fund aimed at boosting innovation for seniors.

The AARP Innovation Fund will be a $40 million fund looking to invest in early-to-late stage companies that have technology and solutions that better the lives of the 50-plus set. The fund is especially focused on healthcare, and is looking for products that improve accessibility to healthcare at home for older adults, help them adopt positive health behaviors, or help prevent the onset of serious health conditions. JP Morgan Asset Management will be helping AARP in sourcing and evaluating potential companies to invest in.

The overarching aim of the fund is to challenge startups and the private sector to think about technological solutions that take into account the needs of the over-50 demographic. “The goal is to try to change the market, so they are thinking differently about the way people are aging,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said. “How do we design technology in a different way?”

The AARP has been moving towards stimulating innovation for their constituents. They held a startup demo day for investors around three years ago that highlighted innovations focused on those over 50. Late last year, AARP launched RealPad, an Android OS tablet aimed at the over-50 user who might feel unfamiliar with mobile devices. The tablet came pre-bundled with AARP apps and ways to connect with customer support agents who could help guide users through the tablet.

The VC fund comes at a time of growth for the demographic: in January, the first members of those born between 1965 and 1980 – normally dubbed “Gen-X” – turned 50. By 2020, 35% of the U.S. population will be over 50, and with it comes a purchasing power that is said to be responsible for around $7.1 trillion in economic activity, according to AARP. The organization will try to leverage that financial muscle with startups, getting them to shift towards mobile apps and devices that cater to their demographic.

“The fund is the next evolution of our ability to fulfill our social mission by making sure that the needs and interests of those 50-plus are well represented by products and companies,” said Jenkins.

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